Bengaluru/Ballari, Nov 9: A day after the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch police said they were investigating former minister G Janardhana Reddy's possible role in "bailing out" Syed Ahmed Fareed in an Enforcement Directorate (ED) case involving a Rs 600-crore Ponzi scheme, three special teams on Thursday landed in Hyderabad in search of the elusive mining baron.
By evening one team got a tip that Reddy was at a close friend's apartment near Banjara Hills but, by the time police reached there, he had vanished, investigators said.
One more police team will leave for Telangana soon, a senior CCB officer told TOI, adding that Reddy had been evading police from Tuesday.
"Reddy is most likely in Hyderabad," he said. "All the three mobile numbers he uses are switched off. Before switching off his phones, Reddy had made several calls to Hyderabad and other places on the Karnataka border."
Additional commissioner of police (crime) Alok Kumar said investigators, who have asked police of other states for help to nab Reddy, had questioned Ambidant Marketing Pvt Ltd founder-director Syed Ahmed Fareed again on Thursday.
Investigators believe Reddy took 57kg of gold from Fareed, promising to pay unscrupulous Enforcement Directorate officers to let him off the hook in the investment scam.
"We have some big names involved in the case," Alok Kumar said. "We are following the trail of the money and it has changed many hands."
CCB sleuths on Thursday also raided the residence of Reddy's aide Mehfuz Ali Khan in RT Nagar, Bengaluru. Also, CCB personnel continued their searches at the Reddy's flat in Parijata Apartments near Chalukya Circle. Policemen carried documents out of the apartment as the searches continued till late in the evening.
In Ballari, armed with a search warrant, an eight-member CCB team led by ACP Manjunath Chowdary swooped down on Reddy's house and offices at 8am. Reddy's wife Aruna Lakshmi was present during the search and affixed her signature on the panchanama (witness record) copy.
Her father Parameshwara Reddy told reporters later that he cooperated with the investigators. The searches evidently upset her mother Nagalakshmamma, and Reddy's friend and BJP leader B Sreeramulu soon arrived in an SUV to placate her. CCB police summoned women personnel, who explained to Nagalakshmamma the legality of the operation, after which she too cooperated with the officers.
Officers recorded the operation on their cellphones as they scoured the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms, knocked on walls and opened all lockers in the presence of Sreeramulu and fellow party leader K Ramachandra Reddy.
Around 3.15pm, they left for Reddy's Obulapuram Mining Corporation office, 500m from Reddy's house. Searches at the office concluded around 6pm.
Mining baron Janardhana Reddy gives cops the slip in Hyderabad